Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Thought Experiment Based on a Loose Theory

In my last post I attempted to draw a theoretical distinction between strength defined as an internal attribute of a person opposed to strength defined as power over others.

When strength is defined as an attribute of an individual, one realizes that they can strengthen the whole by strengthening the individual. For example, one might conclude that expanding educational opportunities to as many as possible will strengthen society.

When strength is defined as power over others, people are apt to be ruled by petty jealousies and might be inclined to deny others access to resources simply to maintain their relative position. This type of thinking sets up society as a zero sum game.

I made this theoretical distinction because I feel it might apply to other theories such as Libertarianism.

A naïve view of Libertarianism is that Libertarians see the state as evil and the market as good. Libertarianism proper is far more developed than its caricature; however, public debate tends to center on caricatures.

The distinction I was trying to draw might serve as a starting point in examining why free enterprise often has better results than statism. Many of the systems that argue for greater state control seem to be premised on a view that power is relative and there must be a massive state infrastructure to regulate people's relative power. Free marketeers tend to toward the view that strength (and various forms of well being) are attributes of the individual, and that as the individuals improve, society as a whole improves.

With the distinction drawn, we can do a quick thought experiment to discover that when the state is driven by a belief system that seeks to help develop the people within the system (limited government) then the government effectively increases the wealth of the nation by increases the wealth of the people. Conversely, when a market is overtaken by the negative ideology of domination and submission, the market itself will start working as destructive force.

In the current economic meltdown, we find that our market has been dominated by a large number of extremely power banks, insurance companies and GSEs formed around the premise that they will be so humongous that they effectively play the role of market regulator.

In other words, the mindset is more important than either the center of the structure of power.

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